Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka has said South Africa’s economy is already over the brink and people should be allowed to go back to work to make a living.
Speaking to The Nielsen Network, Wierzycka said the government needs to start unlocking distribution channels for businesses to survive.
“The obvious channel is online sales. Why are online sales not permitted? It is one way for small businesses to trade,” she said.
Wierzycka is also supporting calls to open more retail stores under a controlled environment.
This, she explained, is needed to unlock distribution channels and fuel supply and demand to help businesses to survive.
She said vulnerable people should be isolated to protect them from the coronavirus, but the country must have a viable economy.
She added that easing some regulations by dropping the country to level 4 is more about perception than truly helping the economy.
“You are not freeing up any distribution channels and you are not freeing up any consumer behaviour,” Wierzycka said.
She also bemoaned the fact there are no timelines on when the South African economy will be opened again.
South Africa heading for a humanitarian crisis
Wierzycka warned that South Africa is heading for a humanitarian crisis, with people running out of food and money.
She said thousands of people are already queuing for 15 hours to get food parcels – something which has never happened in South Africa before.
“More people are going to die in this country from hunger, desperation, violence, and social unrest,” she said.
“Every day which passes we are plunging deeper into the abyss. In two weeks, we will struggle to contain the social unrest,” Wierzycka said.
She said the risk posed by the struggling economy is now higher than the risk posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Unless urgent steps are taken to unlock this economy, COVID-19 will be the least of our problems,” she said.
South Africans queuing for food parcels
The video below shows aerial footage of long queues for emergency food parcels in Centurion amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
Magda Wierzycka interview
South Africa is heading for a humanitarian crisis. Unless urgent steps are taken to unlock this economy COVID-19 will be the least of our problems. @Magda_Wierzycka @JanineBester https://t.co/JaljPUczbA pic.twitter.com/JP23PVqtgA
— Bronwyn Nielsen (@bronwynnielsen) April 29, 2020